All About Posture

By Coach Jimmy

Life is quite the balancing act. The hustle & bustle brought about by technology has individuals fighting for a balance between work & play, and, in doing so, they tend to neglect an equally important balance in their everyday lives … their posture!

A person’s posture is simply a product of the balance (or imbalance) between opposing muscle groups. When the body is balanced it habitually stands, sits, and moves the way it was designed to. However, once an imbalance is created, additional stress can be placed on tissues in the body, leading to a multitude of pain and injuries.

One of the most common postural imbalances created by today’s techno-culture is called Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS). Visually, forward rounding shoulders and a forward poking chin characterize UCS. This syndrome occurs from habitually slouching forward, a common posture in today’s society, whether typing at a computer, texting on a cellphone, or even driving in a car. Naturally, comfortable positions for these activities lead to tightness in the chest (Pectoralis Major/Minor) and shoulders (Upper Fibres of Trapezius), as well as weakness in the upper back (Rhomboids/Lower Fibres of Trapezius) and neck (Cervical Spine Flexors). The combination of tightness and weakness in these opposing muscle groups can lead to many chronic issues such as Impingement Syndrome and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

In theory, correcting posture like rounded shoulders and chin pokes is fairly simple, but it can be a lengthy process. Picture your shoulder girdle as the rope in a Tug-Of-War between the muscle groups in your back vs. the muscle groups in your chest. Spending significant time slouched puts the muscles of the upper back in a lengthened position, giving them a significant mechanical disadvantage against the muscles of the chest in the Tug-Of-War. In order to even out the “battle” over shoulder position, you must focus on both sides of the war. Lengthening the tight, advantaged muscles of the chest using a combination of stretches and soft tissue release will even the playing field temporarily. While the fight is even, you must strengthen the weak muscles of the upper back so that they can continue to hold the desired position, as opposed to quickly returning to their lengthened position. This battle can be resolved quickly in less serious cases, but can drag on in much more pronounced UCS. Combining chest lengthening with back strengthening eventually leads to the body being comfortable and relaxed in an upright position instead of slouched.

It is important to remember that posture is a product of habit and should always be consciously monitored, especially for individuals whose occupation or daily activities promote a slouched position. If you feel that you may have an imbalanced posture, such as UCS or work a physically compromising job behind the wheel or at a desk, ask your M2M coach for some corrective exercises and strategies to help you win the battle and regain your postural balance.

“Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) – Dr. Seuss